Monday, June 17, 2013

The Ratter's Blade

In a city as old and powerful as Cittá  it often takes extraordinary circumstances to change the balance of power.  Four centuries ago, during Lord Belleroth's reign as local representative of the Emperor, a terrible famine struck, which lasted several years.  A group of foragers, who made their living scavenging in the ruins under Cittá  called upon Belleroth and offered to ensure a supply of meat to outlast the famine.  They were led by a shady rogue named Throck, and his stated price was Guild status for his foragers.  Belleroth put him off again and again, but as the famine stretched on into a seventh year, he finally agreed to Throck's terms, for the foragers seemed better fed than even the local nobility.

Within a few days, the foragers began delivering cuts of meat to Belleroth... 20 pounds the first day, 40 the next, 100 on the third day, and within a month, 1000 pounds of meat a day!  Belleroth happily made use of the new supply, feeding first his family, then the local nobles who most supported him, and gradually providing rations for the masses.  It was then that Throck's foragers stopped delivering cuts of meat, and started delivering entire corpses of giant rats. Belleroth was outraged, but cornered... he couldn't go back on his word, and didn't want to appear the fool, so he had his butchers and cooks continue to use the rat, as though it were the most normal thing in the world.  As the famine stretched on, Throck demanded recognition for his guild, but Belleroth put him off, saying that until the famine had ended, the meat supply must continue, or Throck would be hanged for breaking their contract, and his foragers all imprisoned.  For two more years, the foragers provided for Belleroth and the nobility, and finally the famine ended.
Belleroth, though, continued to make excuses to avoid granting the foragers their status.  Finally, Throck and the foragers had had enough, and six months after the famine ended they cut off the supply of rat meat, and disappeared into the undercity, where Belleroth's men had no chance of finding them.

A year to the day after the famine ended, Belleroth awoke to find a giant rat perched upon his chest... and not just his household, but several square miles of the city were infested with the foul vermin.  For weeks, no matter how many were killed, the rats just kept coming... and finally Belleroth was forced to announce publicly that he needed the help of the foragers.

Throck made his appearance later that day, in Belleroth's very own bedchamber, a supposedly secure room.  Spying a finely crafted dagger mounted on the wall above Belleroth's bed, Throck added it to his demand.  "Grant us guild status today, and give me that dagger as my symbol, and the rats will be gone in a week!"  Belleroth reluctantly agreed, and before nightfall, on behalf of the Emperor, signed the charter granting official guild status to the foragers.

Lord Belleroth fancied himself a witty man, and being less than enamored of the new Guildmaster, and hoping to embarass him, designated the new Guild "The Faithful Order of Ratters and Guild of Exterminators," or Foragers.  The promised dagger had been in Belleroth's family for several generations, and he was loathe to make the gift, but such was his rank and position that he had no choice.  Throck laughed at the joke, not at all upset, and took Belleroth's dagger as his own.

For almost three hundred years, the blade served as the symbol of the Guild, worn by every Guildmaster, and used repeatedly to dispatch not only giant rats and sewer vermin but many of the smaller humanoids that lived under Citta as well.  The Foragers were an open Guild, admitting anyone willing to enter the undercity, and several Guildmasters were accomplished mages who sought to weave powerful enchantments into the blade.  A little over a century ago, a group of Foragers, led by their Guildmaster, were exploring deep below Citta when the floor collapsed, sending the Guildmaster and half the party down into inky blackness.  When a rescue party finally reached the lower level a few days later, the gnawed-upon corpses of the Guildmaster and the rest of the party were found... surrounded by hundreds of dead rats.  The dagger was not found, and hasn't been seen since.

The Ratter's Blade

+1/+2 vs. Smaller than Man-size Creatures/+3 vs. giant rats (plusses apply both to hit and damage rolls)

In an underground setting the blade glows a very dim bluish white light.  In the presence of vermin, the blade brightens with an angry reddish glow.  The latter is evidenced whenever any creatures of animal intelligence or below (rats and mice, giant rats, wererats, cockroaches, beetles of all sorts, etc.) come within 60 feet.  The Blade grants its wielder multiple attacks against creatures of less than one hit die, granting one attack per level as if the wielder were a fighting man.  In addition, the Blade calls out to vermin within a half mile, and any small creatures within 30 feet may be charmed and will obey the spoken commands of the wielder for 2d4 rounds, even if they otherwise could not understand the spoken words; those that make their save vs. magic instead fall asleep for 1d6 rounds.  NOTE:  Smaller than man-size humanoids (kobolds, goblins, etc.,) save vs magic at +2; those who fail their save are charmed for 1d4 rounds, those who succeed are unaffected, and do NOT fall asleep.

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